AnJie Law Firm has become the latest Chinese firm to enter Hong Kong after forming an association with a local law firm led by former Dechert Hong Kong office head Basil Hwang.
Beijing-based AnJie now has a formal association with Hwang Hauzen LLP, a Hong Kong law firm that Hwang founded late last year. The firm focuses on financial regulatory matters related to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission and cryptocurrency-related work. It also advises on Hong Kong Stock Exchange-related transactions such as public takeovers and acts as outside company secretary for listed companies.
Hwang, who joined Dechert in 2007 to launch its first Asian office in Hong Kong, was the firm’s Hong Kong managing partner until 2014. He also was involved in the opening of Dechert’s Beijing office in 2008. In 2014, in a rare move, Hwang left Dechert to join China’s Zhong Lun Law Firm as a Hong Kong partner. He retired from Zhong Lun’s partnership in 2016 but remained as a consultant with the firm.
Earlier in his career, he was with Singapore’s Allen & Gledhill and practiced with O’Melveny & Myers and Clifford Chance.
In addition to Hwang, the firm has another partner—Adam Cheng—who joined in January from the Chinese firm JunHe, where he was a Hong Kong-based corporate partner. Cheng was previously counsel with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Hwang Hauzen LLP currently has six fee earners, including Hwang and Cheng. Hwang said over the next 12 months he plans to expand the firm to 20 lawyers, including six to eight partners.
While serving as general counsel and executive directors for listed companies, Hwang said he realized there was demand for good compliance and regulatory advice from someone who understands listed companies and their business needs from the inside. He opted to launch his own firm, as he found big firms less adaptive to the fast-changing markets and business.
Michael Gu, a Beijing-based co-founding partner of AnJie, said Hwang and Cheng’s Hong Kong law practice complements the firm’s existing offerings for Chinese clients. In addition to helping Chinese clients list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Gu said, their Hong Kong law practice is key to helping Chinese companies set up offshore structures for outbound transactions.
AnJie has about 200 lawyers in four offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Founded in Beijing in 2012, AnJie is better known for its antitrust and insurance-related work. But the firm has been expanding its corporate and capital markets practice in recent years.
Currently, 26 Chinese firms operate in Hong Kong, according to the Law Society of Hong Kong. These include most of the top domestic players, such as King & Wood Mallesons, JunHe, Fangda Partners, Zhong Lun and Jingtian & Gongcheng. One of the latest additions was Haiwen & Partners, which launched last year with former Latham & Watkins counsel Lu Guiping at the helm of its Hong Kong office.
Additional reporting by Anna Zhang in Hong Kong.